The Instruments of a Foolish Shepherd
Zechariah 11:15-16
And the LORD said to me, Take to you yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.…

The command addressed to the prophet was, "to take unto him yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd." "Yet" means "again," "once more." "Beauty" and "bands" were also instruments of a foolish shepherd. He was to take other instruments so as to manifest more visibly and strikingly what a foolish shepherd is. By "foolish" understand ungodly, unregenerate, destitute of heavenly imparted wisdom, and therefore in God's account a fool. The "foolish shepherd" is therefore a natural man lifted up by education, pride, covetousness, or presumption into a pulpit, and devoid of spiritual illumination and heavenly wisdom. He has certain instruments which the prophet was to take as emblems of his character. What they were the Holy Ghost has not here informed us, but as we may gather them from other parts of Scripture I shall take the liberty to put them into his hand.

1. A mask. The thing it represents, namely, deceit and imposture, is as old as the times of Jannes and Jambres. To wear a mask is to play a false part, to assume a fictitious character, to be a stage player; for in ancient times the actors never appeared but in masks, the features of which imitated the persons they represented. Thus the foolish shepherd makes the people his stage, his holy countenance being his mask, and his false zeal loud speech, and impassioned rant his wardrobe; and thus by craft and cunning he entangles the simple in his net.

2. A sceptre. The badge of authority and power.

3. A pair of sharp shears; for we read that "they clothe themselves with the wool," and of course must have something to get the wool off with. To receive what is voluntarily given is a different thing from clipping off as much wool as possible, or cutting so close as to fetch blood, and take off a bit of the skin.

4. A long whip that shall reach every corner of the pen, to flog all that stir up the enmity of his carnal mind, by what he calls a discontented mind.

5. A bow, and a quiver full of arrows; to reach those at a distance who are beyond the lash of the whip. Come now to his character, which the Holy Ghost has here drawn, and as we learn much from contraries, it will afford us an opportunity of seeing from the contrast what the wise shepherd is.

(1) The first thing said of this foolish shepherd is, that "he shall not visit those that be cut off," meaning such as, by a work of the law in their consciences, are cut off from all creature righteousness, all false refuges, all deceitful homes and rotten props; from finding any good in self, or resting on the testimony of man. The margin gives another rendering, "those that be hidden." Hidden from general view and observation. These "cut off," "hidden" ones the foolish shepherd "does not visit."(2) "Neither shall seek the young one." The new born babes, that desire the sincere milk of the Word. The foolish shepherd neglects these.

(3) "He does not heal that which was broken." This may suggest those who have lost their first love, and backslidden from God.

(4) "He feedeth not that that standeth still." Some of the Lord's quickened family are reduced to such straits in soul experience as to be able to move neither forward nor backward. They are like sheep cast, and cannot get upon their legs. Such are the four negative marks of the foolish shepherd; the things that he does not do. There are two positive marks, things that he does do. "He shall eat the flesh of the fat." He shall not take that which comes, that which is offered him, but he must go through the flock, and select the fattest for his own eating. "And shall tear their claws in pieces." Sheep are said to have claws. And these they will sometimes exercise upon the shepherd. When, then, the foolish shepherd feels the scratch of their claws, he puts forth all his strength, and team them in pieces.

(J. C. Philpot.).

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.

WEB: Yahweh said to me, "Take for yourself yet again the equipment of a foolish shepherd.

The Evil Shepherd
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